Sunday, December 10, 2017

If It Snows, We Go!

I remember a certain day during my third year of teaching as if it was yesterday. That was ten years ago, but I remember it clearly. It was such an exciting day. My first graders were learning about fractions, so we made pizzas at school. We used fractions to help us with toppings and after baking our pizzas, we reviewed fractions by slicing each pizza into equal pieces.

That day we also had a writing celebration, called Poetry Coffee House. The students made the room look like a hip coffee house, we wore all black with fun hats, and listened to jazz music in the background. We enjoyed hot chocolate with our families as we snapped along as each student read their poem at the mic.

As the parents, left Poetry Coffee House that day our class was sitting by the window reading a story, when we saw snow falling outside. Outside our window was the most beautiful scene of falling snow. Snow perfect to play in, so what did I do to celebrate this amazing moment in Georgia...

I had them watch the snow from the window and write snow poems. Yes, that’s it.

Why didn’t I let them go outside and play in the fresh fallen snow you might ask because of FEAR.

I had too much fear to take them outside in the snow. What if my principal didn’t want us outside, what if we are the only class out there, what if the parents didn't want their child playing in the snow, what if the kids didn’t have a warm enough jacket?

Sadly, enough I let the fear of what ifs take over such an important moment. A moment that could have been worked into so many lessons, a moment that could have allowed our class to experience an event together, a moment that they would have remembered over pizza and poems.

Later that day my husband who also worked at the same school at the time told me all about his class’ adventure in the snow. They played together, had a snowball fight, raced in the snow, and came in with complete joy.

My first question for him was, “Did you get in trouble?” I remember asking this like this was of the utmost importance. “Of course I did” he told me. After being outside for ten minutes, the principal herself came outside and asked him what he was doing. His response was, “I am giving the kids an experience in the snow. An experience many of our students have never had.”

It was at that moment that I decided I would never let fear hold me back from doing what's best for my students. My new motto became, If It Snows, We Go!

This Friday (12/09) I got the experience to live this motto out with my kindergarten class and my very own two children. The weather Friday predicted a light snow in the morning. My students came into the classroom with a skip in their step to get the chance to witness snow. I had one of my students’ pull the blinds all the way up to keep an eye on the window throughout the morning. We called her the Snow Watcher.

We were reading the story during Literacy when all of a sudden our snow watcher yelled, “It’s SNOWING!” Many of our students rushed over to the window. Their excitement all a glow in the room. As I looked outside my own excitement grew, It was SNOWING!

I told them, “When It Snows, We Go!” They quickly got their jackets and gloves on and we headed outside or should I say we practically ran outside.

Once out the doors my class ran down the sidewalks, jumped up and down, caught the snow in their hands, and just played. They watched the snow fall on the bushes, they wondered why the snow disappeared when it hit the pavement, and they gazed up into the sky to watch it fall down so quickly, falling right on their joyful faces.

My class got the chance to experience real snow, something our part of Georgia does not get very often. I teach a unit in January about winter and snow, but this was not a lesson, this was the real experience. An experience that my students all needed and deserved.

When my husband and I got home, we took our two girls back to the school to go and play on the big playground and the next day we took them to Mulberry park to sled on the biggest hills. 

It was so much fun watching my own children play in the snow and to get to play with them. It was especially fun to watch my husband play with the girls. He is such a great daddy and I feel blessed to witness his journey as a dad. He just has this magic touch with them. He allows them to be children, but he also goes right into their world becoming a child himself, it is just beautiful to witness.

What has been surprising to me the past few years of our light snow is that there are not many people out in the snow or playing outside. Usually we are one of the few people playing in our neighborhood, school, or local parks.

Last year there was only one other family at the park and a Gwinnett Daily Post Journalist went to three parks looking for people playing for the newspaper. Our family and the other family were the only ones he could find for the paper.

The strangest thing is when I let people know this year we were heading out to play in the snow I got the responses from multiple people: “Be careful!”,“Stay safe!”, “Are you sure you want to go out there?” or “Wow, you guys are so brave!”

I have learned from my own experience that third year of teaching when I chose to keep my students safe and warm by that snowy window that we cannot let fear or those what if questions guide our lives.

We will always have fears, it is a natural part of life, but we have to push through them, so we can actually live our lives, helping our students and our own children make memories, make experiences, and live. We have to take every opportunity we can to challenge ourselves, therefore helping the future generations become brave, daring, young at heart, and full of life.

I am so thankful years ago, I learned such a valuable lesson, to seize the moment even when you think there might be back lash or even when you are fearful.

Those who know me well know I do my best to follow rules and things expected of me, but they also know I have a rebellious spirit for doing what is best for kids. I pray I always keep that little rebel spirit. I believe it has been created in me to make sure I live a life that's full and to remind me that sometimes doing what is best for kids requires a little bit of rebel in all of us.

Alana Stanton is a kindergarten and technology specials teacher at Mulberry Elementary in Gwinnett County, Georgia. She has taught several grades over her 14 year career including K-3 literacy special, first grade, second grade, and kindergarten. Alana believes that relationships always come first in the classroom and the classroom should be a place where students thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. She currently writes for her blog, More Than A Lesson where she shares the stories of her classroom and her heart.


  1. Alana, I can't even imagine not having snow... ;) In northern Illinois here, we are in the snow constantly! Enjoy what little you get - so glad to hear about the kids' wonders. Thanks for sharing your adventures in learning!

  2. Thank you so much Joy! I appreciate your kind words.

  3. Let children guide their learning through their wonder.